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Audience response systems provide a way to sustain attention and motivation by making face to face teaching more interactive, engaging and enjoyable without the problems inherent in traditional methods of asking questions: some students being too shy to answer and or less able students being led to vote one way by more able students.

Evidence For Use

Kay, R.H and LeSage, A Examining the benefits and challenges of using audience response systems: A review of the literature. Computers and Education, 2009; 53(3): 819-827

Preszler, R.W., Dawe, A., Shuster, C.B. and Schuster, M. Assessment of the effects of student response systems on student learning and attitutudes over a broad range of biology courses. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 2007; 6(1): 29-41

Audience Response Systems

There are a wide range of audience response systems available. There are two main options:

  1. Software systems - these rely on the students using their own device (smart phone, tablet, laptop, etc) to access the polls over WiFi. 
  2. Hardware systems ('Clickers'). When you can't guarantee that students will have devices and/or access to Wifi, these involve the students using small devices, known as clickers, to choose answers, and these are sent back to a receiver attached to the presentation computer, which collates and displays the results. The clickers need to be handed out/collected at the beginning/end of the session. 

Some systems integrate directly into PowerPoint, while others are purely web-based applications.

Need Devices?

Depending upon availability, we may be able to lend you up to 32 tablets from our PULSE project for participants who may not have their own - we can also set up a temporary wireless network for the tablets to connect to in any room with a University internet socket. However, if it's just for the occassional person who has forgotten their phone, you could consider buying a couple of cheap smartphones to hand out as spares.


In MSD, we have licences for the Socrative audience response system. This is a web-based, software system that students can access on their own phone, tablet or laptop. It is very simple to use for both teachers and students. However, it does not integrate with PowerPoint like some systems, which means that you have to switch between your slides and a web browser in order to run your quizzes. 

Find out more about using Socrative

Other Systems

There are plenty of other alternatives to Socrative available, including the following, which are both software-based systems:

  • Meetoo - free for up to 100 participants and lets you create your poll questions and display the results, once students have voted, in PowerPoint.
  • Mentimeter
  • Plickers - for smaller groups, this app reads students' answers from simple printed cards which audience members hold up and rotate to give different answers - only one device and no Wifi required!